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Oldest Known Boomerang Found in Poland, Scientists Say

September 30, 1987 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ The world’s oldest known boomerang has been found in a Polish cave, some 23,000 years after the device was made from the tusk of a mammoth, scientists report.

The researchers said they call the two-foot-long device a boomerang because of its shape, rather than any proven ability to return to a person who throws it.

Returning ability may be affected by flaws in manufacturing or by later damage, and it is ″impossible to verify in an archaeological specimen,″ said the researchers, from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow.

Boomerangs were used on virtually all inhabited continents in ancient times, they wrote in Thursday’s issue of the British journal Nature.

An Iron Age wooden boomerang has been found in the Netherlands, for example, and a possible boomerang from mammoth bone has been found in Austria from the Upper Paleolithic period, which stretched from 35,000 years ago to 10,000 years ago.

Uncertainties about the dating of the Austrian find make the new Polish discovery ″the oldest definite find of this kind of weapon,″ they wrote.

One face of the boomerang was flattened by polishing, while the other is rounded. The latter is the original outside of the mammoth tusk, researchers wrote.

Given its appearance, ″the object certainly makes a plausible boomerang,″ Paul Bahn, a British archaeology writer, says in a Nature editorial.

″The find is of potentially great importance for our knowledge of paleolithic techniques of exploiting game.″